» Mysore Diary »
What’s Mysore like? is an inswinger that is often hurled by those who have only heard of Javagal Srinath’s hometown. It’s a bit like Pune, quiet and quaint, and labels such as cultural capital, pensioner’s paradise and garden city sit comfortably on it. But a better comparison would be with Gwalior, really. Identical in size, both kingdoms have the stamp of their maharajas all over the place. The Scindias and the Wadiyars were both entitled to a 21-gun salute. And the scions of the two erstwhile royal families joined politics to become Congress MPs. That’s where the similarity ends. In spite of Madhavrao Scindia’s much-vaunted political skills, Gwalior is dry, dusty and dirty, and has not quite grabbed a slice of the post-liberalisation pie. In spite of Srikanta Datta Narasimha Raja Wadiyar’s much-wanted political skills, Mysore is clean, green and touted as one of India’s most liveable/promising cities. Everybody agrees he is a gentleman—and the appendage "told SDNR Wadiyar in a written reply" appears regularly in parliamentary proceedings. But the ‘yuvaraj’ is astoundingly inaudible and invisible for a 21st-century elected representative. A local newspaper editor says he has not received a single call about any issue concerning the city or its people in any of Wadiyar’s three terms! And in a city of close to a million, there was exactly one Mysorean at a sitdown dinner to mark his 50th birthday in March. It wasn’t Srinath.